Once again the Gomeroi Elders found themselves standing under the harsh sun by the side of the road, refused access to important sacred sites by Whitehaven. The continuous denial of access to these sites, that lie on their own country, is incredibly disheartening and frustrating for the Gomeroi who have fought hard for over eighteen months to work out a way to get in. Only a fortnight ago did Whitehaven bow to the Anti-discrimination conciliation process, and allow them access. Yet again, in contravention of this process they are denied their right to conduct ceremony on country.
Front Line Action on Coal members stood in solidarity outside the gate, while the Gomeroi attempted to negotiate with Whitehaven security in order to get on site. A treaty signed between Gomeroi Traditional Custodians and the Leard Forest Alliance includes an undertaking that no non-violent direct actions will be taken by the alliance on days when it could interfere with ceremony. This treaty reflects the mutual respect and support between the Alliance and Gomeroi, and is just one example where different and diverse sectors of the community have come together in order to stand up to this money-blind corporation.
This is not the first time Whitehaven have blatantly ignored the voices of those whose well-being and human rights they are undermining.
Despite the repeated blows by Whitehaven, Elders continue to show strength, need and passion to protect these crucial sites. Part of this hope rests on a legal action, that could protect Lawlers Well, an important site within the forest earmarked for destruction by Whitehaven. This week, the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians filed for a section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to save this one site that lies at the heart of the forest that Whitehaven plan to clear and then mine.
Protecting this site is vital for the preservation of Gomeroi culture, which like all indigenous Australian cultural sites and practices, have been desecrated since colonisation. Looking at this past, it should be clear – this sort of ignorance and neglect has to stop.
To take action in support of the Gomeroi go to http://leard.frontlineaction.org/save-lawlers-well/ [all the info is there but the website is under-construction]